Maldon-Dombarton line chugs into next stage

Illawarra MPs Sharon Bird (left) and Jennie George have been instrumental in breathing new life into the Maldon-Dombarton link.The Maldon-Dombarton railway line is today a step closer to being completed, with a pre-feasibility study showing there is a business case to progress the moth-balled link.Treasurer Wayne Swan is expected to release the results of the $300,000 study into the line which began in January, before he speaks at a business lunch in Wollongong this afternoon. Latest news: Wayne Swan announces extra $3m for studyThe study – a pre-election promise by Illawarra Labor MPs Sharon Bird and Jennie George – was undertaken by consultants Connell Hatch and looked at present and future rail freight transport needs, the capacity of existing freight networks and construction requirements for the line’s completion.RECENT COVERAGE ——————————— Freight giant backs Maldon-Dombarton Study into Maldon-Dombarton link under way Ditched Maldon-Dombarton plan back on track——————————————————The Mercury understands the completed study shows a strong business case for progressing to a more comprehensive feasibility study, with the predicted cost of finishing the line in today’s terms considerably more than previous estimates of $300 million.The Government has previously indicated a feasibility study and engineers’ reports would cost about $4 million and construction would take a further three years.Completion of the 35km Maldon-Dombarton link has been identified as the region’s infrastructure priority by business and community groups.The project was initiated in 1983 by the Wran state government. About $30 million was spent before the Greiner government cancelled it in 1988.About 30km of track, 4km of tunnel, a 500m bridge across the Nepean and Cordeaux rivers, an underpass under the F5 and a number of bridges over roads and rail tracks would still need to be built, but leftover infrastructure is in reasonable condition.Advocates for the completion of the line say it would provide a direct and efficient route for rail freight to and from Port Kembla, particularly for the expanding $70 billion-a-year western Sydney economy.It could connect Port Kembla to large intermodal ports already established in suburbs like Minto and link in with the National Freight Network.The State Government has continued to push responsibility of the project into the Federal Government’s hands because of its freight implications.Ms Bird, who was a member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport and Regional Services when it recommended completion of the link in 2007, has previously argued for it because “Port Kembla is the only port on the eastern seaboard that is under-utilised”.
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